Here’s a statistic that should alarm you: According to Robert S. Kaplan and David Norton (founders of the Balanced Scorecard), 50 percent of all work done in industrialized countries today is “knowledge work.” In other words, employees in developed nations are making strategic choices every day. Decision-making tasks no longer belong solely to healthcare strategy leadership teams.
Not alarmed yet? Well, Kaplan and Norton also say only 5% of employees understand their company’s strategy. When you consider the role that front line employees—like nurses, receptionists, and IT professionals—play in your day to day operations, this combination can be ripe for disaster. Those same employees are the ones ultimately responsible for enacting the tangible elements of your healthcare strategy and organizational vision.
Some healthcare strategy executives may assume their employees are all well-informed, invested, and enthusiastic about the organization’s strategic goals. Others don’t give it a second thought—healthcare strategy isn’t the front line employee’s job, right?
Such perspectives can set up even the best strategies for failure. To fully realize your goals, you’ve got to figure out how to make strategy everyone’s job.
How Do I Make Healthcare Strategy Everyone’s Job?
Here are four ways to get started:
1. Involve Your Staff in Planning
A hundred heads are better than one. Consider asking for, and using, ideas from doctors, nurses, and maintenance staff during the initial development of your strategic plan. Ownership and participation early on will foster greater buy-in as strategic initiatives begin to roll out. You’ll amass even more momentum if you celebrate all participation and notable contributions.
2. Prioritize Visibility—Communicate Clearly and Continually
A healthcare strategy map uploaded on your hospital’s intranet isn’t going to radically affect your strategy’s success rates. You need to start finding more opportunities for visibility. Some potential options include:
- Broadcasting strategic goals on computer screensavers
- Posting flyers by the coffee machines with updates on the progress of key measures
- Sending out an email with an exciting graphic highlighting recently completed initiatives
It’s also important to understand your audience. Kaplan himself once recalled giving a talk in South Africa where 40% of the workforce was illiterate. The point of the discussion ended up being that leaders in that country needed to select other media to communicate their strategy. Since you know your organization best, focus your messaging in ways that will garner attention (and investment) from your particular workforce.
3. Departmental SLAs
A service-level agreement (SLA) between each department—human resources, IT, inpatient care, etc.—can define each department’s strategic responsibilities. This will align all internal teams towards cohesive organizational goals while also making them more aware of how they’re contributing to the big picture.
4. Incentivize Strategic Success
We’re all driven by rewards. If you link some formal compensation, or informal benefit, to targeted scorecard measures (or whatever strategy management framework you’re using), it will be much easier to get folks to buy-in.
One example might be an employee recognition program. Rather than recognizing simply “excellent work,” you could tie the standards for admirable work to specific healthcare strategy goals. This could be done in a meeting, a newsletter, or whatever format best fits your organization’s culture. You might even throw a party for major milestones. It’s all about aligning organizational culture with strategy.
Don’t Stop There
These four ideas are just the beginning. Making healthcare strategy everyone’s job takes continuous effort and innovation. There are plenty of other possibilities, like picking strategy ambassadors for each objective or using tactile reminders that broadcast major goals. Make it a habit to collect new ideas and techniques for getting staff involved.